Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"In the first week of summer, a knitter on a spree made progress with these WIP's..."


That's how many weeks are left now until school starts again at the end of August.

It's also how many WIP's (i.e. works-in-progress) I currently have piled up on my Ravelry profile. I just took total stock for the first time in a while. Eeeep!! Obviously there's no one else to blame for this over-exuberance. I let it happen, and I am not afraid to admit that. Yet even though I saw myself giving into a certain amount of "start-itis" over the past couple of months, I never meant to let it get quite so much out of hand. I guess that's what comes from not really keeping count of new projects, or more accurately from discounting (i.e. ignoring) certain long-term ongoing — I suppose the technical term is hibernating— ones.

But however this absurd / lamentable / crazy-making state of affairs came about, there is clearly no good reason why it should be allowed to continue. So... I have decided to dedicate the bulk of my summer knitting this year to wrapping up as many works-in-progress as I can. One of them I actually expect to finish as soon as today or tomorrow, and several more by the end of this month. July and then August will each see their share of completions in turn as well. Yet tempting as it might seem to do some simplistic math and set up an elaborate, regimented scheme for getting them *all* done by the end of the summer (e.g. 12 projects / 12 weeks = 1 project per week on average), I WILL NOT GO THERE. It would be silly, unrealistic, and joy-killing in the extreme to put that kind of undue pressure on myself. The projects are at different stages of development, ranging from 95% complete to just getting started. Some of them will no doubt continue into the fall/winter and beyond, but the goal is to make demonstrable headway on each and every one of them in the next dozen weeks.

Plain old common sense dictates that I adopt such a plan, and there is a financial incentive too. I would like to avoid undue expenditures wherever possible, and it should be easy to stay on track with so much already in the works to keep me occupied sans new purchases. I do have a wish-list, of course (what knitter doesn't?), most notably including Silk Thread or maybe Silk Thread II from Blue Moon Fiber Arts in one of the Raven colorways for Anne Hanson's Irtfa'a farose shawl and Gossamer CashSilk from Heirloom Knitting in *black*, which they recently made available partly at my urging. I would also like to acquire a woolly board for the guernseys when the time comes. But all of these things can wait until August, when I should have some birthday money to throw around.

Meanwhile there are these twelve ongoing projects spread out here in front of me, including five lace pieces (four beaded and one gossamer), five sweaters, a pair of colorwork mittens, and a felted bag. My goals for each of them are as follows. Click on any of the image thumbnails to get a closer look...

[1] At the very top of the list, because it is the closest of the entire bunch to being 100% finished, comes my Ravelympics 2010 Stained Glass Felted Bag. It was all but wrapped up back in February, needing only a lining and shoulder straps to pronounce it "D-U-N done." I even purchased some appropriately cheerful lavender lining fabric weeks ago, but then I did not get a chance to tackle the actual cutting and sewing until just yesterday. It was a tricky little bit of seamstress work, if I do say so myself, and I will devote an entire post to the finishing process, also including the knitting, felting, and attachment of the shoulder straps, as soon as the project is successfully completed. It will be nice to check off at least one item right away. :-)

[2] The second item is actually new to the blog. Somehow I never got around to mentioning it, but right after the Ravelympics I started a pair of the ever-popular Fiddlehead Mittens using some jewel-toned Borgs Vävgarner S.N. 2 garn from the depths of my stash. I got the body of one mitten done in short order and ordered some yummy alpaca yarn for the linings, before my life became too hectic and the weather too warm to think about mittens anymore. So I put the project away for a while. The first one did not take more than a day or two to knit, though, so I will get the second one finished at some point during the summer, whenever the mood strikes, and then try to have them both lined and ready to wear before the snow flies. No huge rush on this project, then, but not a big deal to wrap it up either.

[3] I may have waited nearly 20 years to say it, but as I mentioned in a recent post, the lavender-blue silk Candlelight Kimono is happening VERY fast. Sometime in the next few days I should actually have the back finished and start the two fronts. After that it will require only short little sleeves and some careful blocking and sewing to ensure a proper fit and drape to the fabric. But even so, I will be frankly *astonished* if I do not have the option of wearing this sweater for the July 4th holiday.

[4] Based on actual start-dates (as opposed to yarn acquisition), the single longest-standing item on the incomplete list is my sweater tribute to Frejya, our fluffy orange Maine Coon cat. The front took me no more than a week to knit, but that was 3 years ago!! First I procrastinated mightily over weaving in all the loose ends produced by the intarsia. Then I took almost as long again with the duplicate-stitch embroidery. But the latter is 85% complete, and I will see to it that it gets the rest of the way done during June. I have already started the back of the sweater, which is slated to have a goldfish bowl on it. More intarsia and embroidery there, alas, but thankfully on a smaller scale than the front. So I will aim to complete the knitting in July and the embellishments in August. Then (mirabile dictu) the sweater will need only sleeves and a collar — oh, and a fuzzy dangling Main Coon cat-tail!! I would love love L-O-V-E to wear it at Christmas. So help me, then, oh ye Gods of needlework, this project *will* be done in 2010...

[5] My husband's Stornoway is coming along nicely, though at a rate consistent with the 2.5 mm (US size 1+) gauge, and is now missing only the sleeves. I recently acquired the 24" circular needle required for the upper portion of the arms and have picked up the first round of sleeve stitches. My goal is to finish one sleeve in July and the other in August, thus ending Phase I of the Great Guernsey Adventure, which was launched here last July. Since I fully expected the His & Hers project to take at least a year all along, everything looks to be more or less right on schedule.

[6] Since I did not actually cast on for my Eriskay until late November, I do not expect to finish it anytime soon. But I have made quite a bit of progress on it lately, since completing the ribbing. In fact, the body now measures 6 1/2" , which is already more than halfway to the base of the armhole gussets!! So I will try to reach the armholes sometime in the next few weeks and maybe get through the front and back yokes (or at least one of them) by the end of the summer. Then again, I am not in any great hurry and can always recalibrate the timetable if need be.

[7] The fifth and final sweater on the list, which I have dubbed "Peggy Tudor," went into quasi-hibernation in early October, when I completed the second of the four large body panels and laid the next two aside in deference to other things. I have deliberately never set any timetable for this painstaking (dare I say 'monumental'?) project, preferring to emphasize quality over quantity in my overall approach to it. I do not want it to go on forever, though, and it would be nice to start seeing some real progress again in the not-too-distant future. Indeed I would like see if I could have all the remaining body pieces done by the end of the summer. That's two side panels and four openwork panels, so not entirely out of reach, depending on how the time goes. As with Eriskay, though, I will take stock of things in July and adjust my expectations as needed. I will order the buttons before long, though, following the lead of a fellow Raveler who put me onto this magnificent solution to the otherwise vexing button problem. So the work goes on...

[8] Among the lace projects, the one closest to completion is the Evenstar. As described in my recent update, I continue to plug away at the beaded edging, a few points at a time. I try to do at least a little bit every day. Sometime very soon, although I won't pledge myself to an exact date, I should reach the halfway point. My goal is to finish the shawl in time for my sister-in-law's wedding in mid-July. I should manage it with ease, if I just keep working at the slow-but-steady pace that I have established.

[9] The American Beauty shawl could move up and become my "front-line" beaded project when the Evenstar is out of the way, but I will not force the issue if other things seem to take priority instead. I am enjoying it immensely, as I intimated not long ago, and I fully intend to savor it for as long as it lasts. So I will continue to work on it whenever the mood strikes and trust it to keep growing at a reasonable rate without applying any undue pressure. This is one where the best plan will be to set no timetable whatsoever and simply let nature take its course.

[10] Remember the Unst Stole? I have done nothing and said nothing about it for a very long time, but I have not lost sight of this delicate piece that I started last summer as a kind of coda to the Princess Shawl. It was driven into hibernation by the sudden arrival of beaded lace, and then kept there by a succession of other projects that came along to grab my attention. Truth be told, I was ready for a break from gossamer knitting after the Princess, even though it took me several weeks of gradual "detox" to realize it, whereby I started this follow-up project. But the better part of a year has gone by since then, and I have been meaning for a while now to pick up the 1.5 mm (US size 000) needles and get back to work. The Platinum colorway in the Gossamer CashSilk has always reminded me of Tolkien's mithril, full of magic and mystery and lore. I have done two full repeats so far of the complex alternating body pattern, and it will need either 4 1/2 or 5 1/2 repeats in all, plus the second "frame" band, before I can move on to the diamond border that is my favorite aspect of the design. I am reluctant to set a firm goal before actually taking a hand to it, so that I can get a sense of how a reasonable pace will look/feel, but roughly speaking let's watch for me to start knitting it again during June and to finish the body in July/August. Then I will work on the borders, and I might aim to have the rest done by mid-winter or spring break. Something like that, anyway.

I have not written about the last two items on the list. They are both beaded lace and belong to the Christmas 2010 Project. I don't think either of the intended recipients pays any attention to my blog, but I will try not to give too much away here. There is more information on my Ravelry profile.

[11] I started working with this skein of Unique Sheep Eos (50% merino, 50% tussah silk) in late March. It is in the Earthfaire-exclusive colorway called "Deep Forest," and I am making a beaded lace scarf/stole with a delicate motif appropriately based on woodsy foliage. The pattern comes from one of my favorite designers. I am nearing the halfway point already and hope to have the whole thing done by August 1st or thereabouts.

[12] Last but not least, I had no business casting on for Yet Another Beaded Lace Project, but I had been thinking about this one and looking forward to it for so long that I finally gave in a few weeks ago and got started anyway, just to see what it would look like. I am using a 100% organic cotton yarn (Pakucho Lace) from EcoButterfly and some magatama beads in a drop-dead gorgeous colorway called garnet-lined transparent topaz AB. The pattern comes from another one of my favorite designers. I have done only a few inches so far of what will eventually be a substantial stole, but it is very open lacework on 3.25 mm (US size 3) needles, so the knitting should go quickly when I finally get a chance to focus on it, which is highly unlikely to happen until August.

So I have my work cut out for me, as the saying goes. To recap the stated goals in a slightly different (i.e. chronological) format:

*Phew*. That was a long haul, and no mistake. But it feels really good to have typed all this up. For one thing, the blog is now completely up-to-date. No more "hidden" or undocumented projects lurking in the wings!! What a relief. It is always a balancing act between knitting and blogging, but maybe now that I don't have to focus quite so much on catching up with the latter, I can spend a bit more time on the former. From now on, periodic updates throughout the summer can refer back to this post by way of holding myself accountable for the goals that I have set. I have placed a convenient marker beside each of the twelve entries to facilitate that process via precise hyperlinks.

Of course, setting goals can be dangerous, especially when you declare them publicly. If I should fall behind at any point, however, let me say right up front that there will be no guilt or recrimination, only adjustments to the timetable. After all, more than anything else I need this to be FUN and RELAXING. :-)

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